A highlight of our tour was spending time with friends, A & O, whom we had met on our Camino Santiago walk in 2013. We met them at the monument to Sigismund III in Castle Square at 12:40, behind schedule after a morning bus tour that was delayed by a naive, enthusiastic, family-friendly, pro-Europe demonstration. Our bus-around tour had visited the large monument to Frederick Chopin (where our group souvenir photo was taken) and Warsaw’s Monument to the Ghetto Heroes. So we said do widzenia to our group and met our friends.
A showed me what she thought was a better angle to take a photo of Sigismund on his column and then off we went to Trattoria Rucola for some darn good pizza and wine. Hunger always makes food taste even better. After “lunch” we walked around old Warsaw with our friend A, a real Varsovian, and O, her beau from Arras in northern France. A showed us the old town renaissance buildings that were rebuilt (after the massive WW II bombing and shelling) from photographs and the 18th C. paintings of masters like Canaletto. They showed us some of the famous statues, buildings and monuments. The Saturday evening atmosphere was joyous and festive. Balloons, music and street food like oscypki cheese.
A is one of those rare Varsovians whose roots are in Warsaw. Rare because, between August 1 and October 2, 1944. The Poles rose up in a very brave, 63-day, persistent but unsuccessful effort to take back their capital. A’s father was a member of that resistance. The Germans destroyed 100% of the Stare Miasto (the “Old Town”) and 90% of Warsaw’s native population. We visited the Warsaw Rising Museum, which opened in 2004, with them. Then we drove across the Vistula and did a car tour plus a visit to a church A had not yet visited.
After our drive across the Vistula we went back to A’s large apartment near the U of Warsaw. O cooked a fabulous French meal, treating us to his last (or second last) can of duck confit (to die for) from the southwest of France. Of course there was much laughter and some wine. And we talked a little more of visiting Cuba together one day… O and I are working on overcoming A’s reservations…
They then drove us back to the Sheraton. Altogether it was ten sweet hours that flew by.